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Portugal court sets 2014 hearing in Maddie libel case

A Portuguese judge on Wednesday delayed until early 2014 the final hearing in a libel case brought by the parents of missing Madeleine McCann.

Kate and Gerry McCann are suing Goncalo Amaral, the former lead detective in the hunt for Madeleine, after she vanished from their Portugal holiday apartment in May 2007.

The couple were staying in the southern Algarve resort of Praia da Luz when their daughter, just days shy of her fourth birthday, went missing from her bedroom as they dined at a nearby tapas bar.

Judge Maria Emilia Melo e Castro set January 7 as the date for final hearings or possible testimony by Madeleine’s parents and Amaral. The court will rule on whether it will hear testimony by the two parties before that date, she said.

Amaral, who led the Portuguese police investigation, wrote a book advancing the theory that Madeleine died accidentally and that her parents were implicated in her death.

The family is seeking the equivalent of £1 million (1.2 million euros, $1.6 million) in damages.

Kate and Gerry McCann have argued that the book impeded the search for their daughter.

On Wednesday morning, the court heard the final witness in the case and watched a documentary adapted from Amaral’s book.

Portuguese authorities said last month they were reopening their probe into the disappearance of Madeleine.

Portuguese authorities closed their investigation into her disappearance in 2008, but Scotland Yard spent two years reviewing it at the British government’s request and opened their own probe in July this year.

The McCanns have led a six-year campaign to find Madeleine, who they believe was kidnapped and is still alive.